Coast Mental Health Announces Fifth 2009 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient


    VIVIAN GARCIA named as recipient in PHYSICAL REHABILITATION category

    VANCOUVER, April 20 /CNW/ - Coast Mental Health announced the fifth of
six award recipients of a 2009 Courage To Come Back Award. Vivian Garcia of
New Westminster has been named as the 2009 Courage To Come Back Award
recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category. The final recipient will be
announced Monday, April 27, leading up to the awards gala on Thursday, April
    Vivian Garcia is a familiar figure at boardroom tables in the Lower
Mainland. As a volunteer with the New Westminster Special Services and Access
Committee; TransLink's, Accessible Transit Committee and their "Access
Transit" User Advisory Committee; the BC Rehab Foundation; and the BC
Paraplegic Association Peer Program, Vivian has worked to facilitate
accessibility for all in her community, sharing her time and knowledge to
ensure that citizens with a disability are welcomed everywhere. Her commitment
doesn't end there: she has volunteered at her housing co-op, her children's
school, a local theatre and PAWS International Resource Centre. Vivian
exemplifies two cornerstones of the Courage To Come Back Awards:
"inspirational value" and "contribution to the community/society."
    On a hot sunny day in 1988, Vivian was carrying her young baby in the
forest surrounding the house she and her husband Peter shared, when a large
tree fell on her back. It severed her spinal cord, paralyzing her from
mid-chest down - at 22, she was in a wheelchair, with continuous nerve damage
pain that Vivian likens to, "being splattered with burning oil 24 hours a
day." That nerve pain has never left her, yet Vivian has never let it stop her
from reaching out to others.
    Caring for their child at home and Vivian in hospital, Peter struggled to
keep his business afloat. Soon their vehicles were repossessed and they were
turned out of their home. The couple's belongings were put in the yard for
strangers to pick over. Understandably, the marriage began to fall apart, and
Vivian left the rehabilitation hospital much sooner than she should have to
look after the baby and try to salvage their life.
    Wheeling a manual wheelchair and being a wife and mother was a challenge.
The difficulties were many, as integration was just beginning to take hold n
the Lower Mainland - there were few curb cuts, and there were shops and
restaurants Vivian simply couldn't enter. She persevered, however, and by 1995
she and Peter had a second child. Unfortunately, she was soon a single parent
with two young sons to house, feed, dress, get to school and sports lessons.
Still, she volunteered her first-hand knowledge to organizations who could
positively impact the lives of her family, friends and neighbours. As one dear
friend says, "Vivian's paralysis may have sat her down, but it certainly
hasn't slowed her down."
    Perhaps Vivian's greatest contribution is an unofficial one: her open
heart and home. Many neighbourhood children and teens have spent hours there,
receiving support and caring, a place to sleep, help with homework, a meal,
advice, the chance to vent and play, or simply getting away from the world. It
is a haven for those who are misplaced, displaced and trying to escape the
pressures of their lives. It is living testimony to Vivian's caring and
positive outlook on life.
    Vivian says, "I am honoured to be recognized by Coast for a Courage To
Come Back Award. To all people who support and embrace the goals of others, I
say thank you. A dreamer, supported, can do great things!"
    Congratulations, Vivian. Coast is proud to have you as our 2009 Courage
To Come Back recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category.
    Vivian Garcia named as recipient in CTCB Physical Rehabilitation category
    Vivian will receive her Courage To Come Back Award at the 11th Annual
Gala Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver on Thursday, April 30th.
For tickets, call 604-675-2328 or purchase online at

    About Courage To Come Back:

    The Courage To Come Back Awards celebrate people who have inspired others
as they have courageously battled back from illness, adversity or injury.
Through Courage, British Columbians are acknowledged for their
accomplishments, positive attitudes and willingness to give back to their
communities. Awards are given in six categories including: mental health,
physical rehabilitation, medical, addiction, social adversity and youth.

    About Coast Mental Health:

    Since 1972, Coast Mental Health has been providing high-quality housing,
employment programs, social opportunities and other community mental health
services for people with serious and persistent mental illnesses.
    Through presenting the stories of six amazing recipients each year at The
Courage To Come Back Awards, Coast Mental Health strives to offer hope to all
those suffering from illness, adversity or injury and demonstrates that all
people have value and dignity regardless of the illness, adversity or injury
they have faced.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Julia Zado, Director of
Communications, D: (604) 675-2342, C: (604) 506-3095,

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